When Christine Paolilla from Long Island, New York, was a young girl, she was diagnosed with alopecia and as a result, started to lose her hair. Wanting to fit in with the other kids at school, she took to wearing wigs. As a teenager, she attended Clear Lake High School where she fell in with the popular crowd, consisting of Rachael Koloroutis and Tiffany Rowell.
The majority of the other students mocked her but Rachael and Tiffany truly took her under their wing and gave her beauty advice and took her shopping. Christine later described them as “the only people who wouldn’t stab me in the back.” After being voted “Miss Irresistible” at 17-years-old, Christine started dating 21-year-old Christopher Lee Snider.
Things for the couple took a grim turn when they both became addicted to drugs. In December of 2003, Christopher had a drug offence for which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 days in jail. In October of 2003, Christine and Christopher were charged with theft. Christine served six months of probation while Christopher entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. In July of 2004, Christine was charged with burglary of a vehicle in Seabrook. She was fined $4,000 but $3,700 of that fine was deferred. She was sentenced to one-year probation which ended in July of 2005.
On the 18th of July, 2008, Christine and Christopher went to Tiffany’s home to purchase drugs from her boyfriend, Marcus Precella. At the time, Marcus’ cousin, Adelbert Sanchez, was at the home as well as Rachael. Marcus worked part-time as a waiter and sold drugs on the side to his friends, including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and Xanax.1
However, after getting into an altercation, Christine and Christopher pulled guns out and aimed them at their friends. The four began to plead for their life, not really understanding what had transpired to make things go south so quickly. “Take whatever you want, just go,” they said. Christine and Christopher opened fire. They fired a total of 20 shots, none of which missed. The couple then fled from the home but not before grabbing a bag of drugs.2
Shortly afterwards, Christine returned to the house after fearing that not all of the victims were dead. Inside, she found that Rachel was still alive. She was on the floor, choking on her own blood. “Why are you doing this to me?” she begged. Christine didn’t reply; she beat Rachael to death with the butt of the gun, splitting her head open.
Police determined the killings were the result of a deep personal hatred. This was implied by the fact that they were shot multiple times with Rachael and Tiffany being shot in the crotch area. They also determined that at least one of the victims knew at least one of the killers due to the fact that there was no forced entry. However, they had no suspects. A composite sketch of Christine and Christopher was released in the media. The sketch was created by a witness who saw them as they left the crime scene.
The murders shook the relatively quiet Clear Lake-area to the core. Many people were afraid that two ruthless killers were lurking in the midst. Police worked on the case around the clock, following thousands of tips that led them through Texas, to Florida and Mexico. However, the case gradually went cold.
Three years later, Crime Stoppers received an anonymous tip from somebody who identified Christine and Christopher as the killers.
Christine was apprehended in a seedy San Antonio hotel room where she and her husband, Justin Rott, had been living. The couple were heroin addicts who had been living in squalor. The hotel room was littered with drugs and drug paraphernalia.3 They had been spending thousands on drugs and the money being used was part of an inheritance that Christine had received when her father passed away.
Following her arrest, Maricella Sanchez, the stepmother of Adelbert, said: “I am just so happy. We are all just overwhelmed. We are just letting it all out. We are just so glad. They were innocent lives that shouldn’t have been taken.”
Following Christine’s arrest, her husband divulged all of the information he knew about the murders to police. He said that his wife had confessed to the murders to him in lurid detail, even stating that within an hour of the murder, she reported to work as a cashier at Walgreens. “The story that Justin tells is consistent with the physical evidence we have collected,” said police Sgt. Brian Harris.
According to Justin, he decided to turn on his wife because he was taking part in a 12-step recovery program and felt as though he had to do what was right. At the time of the murders, Justin didn’t live in the Houston area and didn’t know Christine. He said that what Christine had told him about the murders had given him nightmares. “When she mentioned it to me, it was so overwhelming. I couldn’t believe she was the person I married,” he said.
As news of Christine’s apprehension broke the headlines, Christopher committed suicide in Greenville, South Carolina, where he had been living with his girlfriend. Following his suicide, Christine claimed that it was Christopher who had committed the murders, with her lawyer, Mike DeGeurin, describing her as: “young, frightened and worried.”
Christine was ordered to stand trial for the murders. Due to her young age when the murders were committed, she was ineligible for the death penalty. If convicted, she would receive an automatic life sentence.
During trial, Christine claimed that Christopher had shot all four victims. She stated that as soon as they entered the home, he opened fire while she hid. She claimed that she had accompanied Christopher to the home to buy drugs earlier on in the day and that when they returned later on.
She alleged that Christopher had duped Marcus out of drugs and decided to take Christine back to the house to show her that he was not afraid of Marcus. According to Christine, when Christopher opened fire, he then forced Christine into the living room area and held her hand on the gun handle as he continued to fire.4
The prosecution refuted this, stating: “What a tired and pathetic tactic.” They argued that Christine was just as responsible for the murders as Christopher. “Could this horrible event have happened without her? Of course not.”
Ultimately, the jury sided with the prosecution. Christine Paolilla was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Following the verdict, she cried as she was led away from the courtroom. She must serve 40 years before being eligible for parole. “I feel justice was served. It’s a good first step towards closure,” said George Koloroutis, the father of Rachael.
- Houston Chronicle, 22 July, 2006 – “An Arrest at Last in Clear Lake Slayings”
- Houston Chronicle, 24 July, 2007 – “Suspect’s Husband Shares Tale of Slayings”
- Kerrville Daily Tiems, 27 July, 2006 – “Kerr Tipster Key to Quadruple Murder”
- Houston Chronicle, 14 October, 2008 – “A Dramatic Day in Houston”